Ford And DJI Developing Drone-to-Car Communications
Ford is taking to the sky with software developed to interlink a drone and an F-150. The project, co-developed with drone maker DJI, is intended for search and rescue operations for the United Nations.
Though it’s a niche use, a UN rescue team would drive an F-150 as deep into a disaster area as possible, such as a tsunami or earthquake, then launch the drone from the cargo bed. The drone would be controlled via the F-150’s infotainment screen and the driver’s smart phone. Once in the air, the drone would send images and video of the scene while looking for victims. Once spotted, close-up shots of victims are send back, helping rescue teams assess their condition.
Though search and rescue operations is at the forefront, other uses such as forestry, construction, bridge inspections, and agriculture could benefit from the F-150 drone platform.
There’s only one problem – neither Ford nor DJI have the software to facilitate commutations between the truck, drone, and cloud. That’s why Ford and DJI are kicking off a developer’s challenge with a $100,000 price for the winning software. The challenge is part of the Ford Smart Mobility, a program within the automaker’s Ford Developer Program, which was founded in 2013.
“At Ford, we are driving innovation in every part of our business to help make people’s lives better,” said Ken Washington, Ford vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering. “Working with DJI and the United Nations, there is an opportunity to make a big difference with vehicles and drones working together for a common good.”
If you’d like a crack at the prize money, check out the entry page here.
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Why it matters
Ford has committed itself to devoting time and resources to furthering the high-tech side of the auto industry. From innovated computer coding to drones flying from F-150s, Ford seems set of breaking new ground in the tech world. It’s hard to imagine Ford ever making money on this project, so it seems the automaker is using the project as a community service outlet. Nice job, guys.
It’s probable the U.S. Military would love this type of software, as well. Imagine troops being able to locate enemy combatants from the safety of an armored vehicle while a drone does the searching from above. The military already has systems like this in place, like with the Predator drone for instance, but commanders with dwindling budgets would probably welcome smaller, less costly systems.
Read our full review on the Ford F-150 here.